Do Musicians and Non-musicians Differ in Speech-on-Speech Processing

Publishing the research results is a major aspect of a researcher’s life. HOW these results are published can have a major impact on research and its community. What happens if we share outcomes openly, make data public, publish the comments received from colleagues, or test the academic outcomes of other researchers? This falls under the denominator of Open Science, as part and parcel of academic quality. At UMCG, we promote the principles of Open Science by putting every month the spotlight on an academic article that scores well on certain aspects of Open Science, like open data, open peer review, open source, open access reproducibility.

This month we focus on open access (including data) and open review with the Open Science Publication of the Month April: Do Musicians and Non-musicians Differ in Speech-on-Speech Processing by Elif C. Kaplan, Anita E. Wagner, Paolo Toffanin and Deniz Baskent published in Frontiers in Psychology volume 12, Article number: 623787 (2021).

Open Access as a mission

The group of Prof. Deniz Baskent at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery (UMCG) is working on speech perception and how communication can be affected with hearing impairment. In their recent publication they investigate the influence of music training on speech recognition: if you train with music, will you also hear some speech sounds better? The researchers found out that musicians - perhaps as a result of their training with music - process speech sounds differently compared with non-musicians.

This article was published open access on Frontiers in Psychology. This is not their first article published open access. “We take open access and open science very seriously”, explains Prof. Baskent. The whole lab supports open science practices with a well-established data management plan since five years. It is kind of a rule. She started when she received her VICI grant, and additional budget from NWO was provided for open access. “As long as we have budget for it, we will publish open access, and we will always share data. We make our datasets open, so everything is transparent.” Prof. Baskent adds that it is also important to allocate time to prepare and have a good data management plan, for which the UMCG and RUG provide full support.
The support from RUG and UMCG and NWO/EU are very important for the researchers to be able to apply open science principles. All of this is extra work, and it can seem complicated, especially at the beginning. “It is definitely worth it, but often it is not possible at all without such support. Everyone we have worked with so far, research support personnel, the library, NWO/EU staff, all have been wonderful, and they are really essential for us. In the beginning we did not know that sharing data was easy. Through the support of the library and the research support office we have been able to do that.”

Open Review Process

The article went through an open review process, where review reports and reviewers’ identities are published alongside the articles, and represents one of the latest aspects of the open science movement. “I really like this process; it is good to know who reviews the article. […] I also sign some of the reviews I do. I think it is nice to be open about this. […] In an ideal world we should not be afraid of sharing our critical views.”
Open science practices are not common in her field, she says: approximately half of the scientists are in favor of it. 

Open Science and Scientists’ Reliability

“I think that open science makes us [scientists] more careful” explains Prof. Baskent. She is always very happy to share her datasets; open science is a way to make science more reliable, because scientists need to be really careful when they make their datasets open and available to share. She also adds that there is nothing wrong if there are mistakes. Mistakes can always be corrected. The more you share your data, the more people look at them; this way there is a better chance to find those potential mistakes. Only this way we will find the truth. I am not afraid of making mistakes; my PhD advisor would say that the ultimate truth changes day to day because it depends on how much evidence you gain. What you think today is accurate, may not be accurate the following week anymore. I think we have to be open minded and let our knowledge evolve with more data. That’s the job of a scientist.” 

Do Musicians and Non-musicians Differ in Speech-on-Speech Processing